Pubdate: Fri, 25 Mar 2016
Source: Times-Tribune, The (Scranton PA)
Copyright: 2016


The biggest news in Pennsylvania involving marijuana is the new law 
authorizing its use as medicine, which was long overdue. But a bill 
also is pending in the Legislature that would authorize something 
involving the plant that is even more overdue. It would allow farmers 
to grow industrial hemp.

The plant is a form of marijuana that does not contain THC, the 
chemical that makes pot either high-inducing or therapeutic.

But hemp is incredibly versatile otherwise. Around the world, it is 
grown in more than 30 countries and used in more than 25,000 
products. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United 
States imported about $600 million worth of hemp in 2013.

Hemp was grown and used extensively in the United States from the 
colonial era until it was outlawed in a misguided part of the drug 
war after World War II. In 1943, the research service said, U.S. 
farmers produced 150 million pounds of hemp on 140,000 acres.

In 2014 Congress authorized hemp farming under the supervision of a 
state agriculture department or university. The state bill would 
allow that in Pennsylvania and put state farmers in position to grow 
the crop for profit once restrictions are lifted.

Hemp is a valuable and versatile product that is not a factor in the 
drug culture. The Legislature should authorize this legitimate crop.
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